Styrax officinalis
Common Name: snowdrop bush 
Type: Deciduous shrub
Family: Styracaceae
Native Range: Southeastern Europe, Asia Minor
Zone: 9 to 10
Height: 6.00 to 16.00 feet
Spread: 4.00 to 12.00 feet
Bloom Time: May to June
Bloom Description: White
Sun: Full sun to part shade
Water: Medium
Maintenance: Medium
Flower: Showy, Fragrant
Attracts: Butterflies


Best grown in acidic, organically rich, medium moisture soils with good drainage in full sun to part shade. Performs well in moist sandy loams. Prune as needed in winter to shape. Propagate by seed or cuttings.

Noteworthy Characteristics

Styrax officinalis, commonly called storax or snowbell bush, is a deciduous shrub or small tree that typically grows to 6-16' (infrequently to 20’) tall. It is native to rocky slopes, river margins, open woods and thickets from Bulgaria and the Eastern Mediterranean to the Middle East. Var. californicus, var. fulvescens and subsp. redivivus are native to California.

This shrub features apically blunt, elliptic to ovate or nearly spherical leaves (to 3-4” long). Young leaves, young shoots and young flower stalks are felted. Axillary, drooping, mildly fragrant, orange blossom-like, bell-shaped, white flowers (each to 3/4” long) bloom in sprays of 3-8 flowers at the branch ends in late spring (May-June). Each flower has 5-8 downy petals, stamens joined at their bases, and showy yellow anthers. Ball-like fruits mature in late summer.

Wounded stems exude a fragrant resin known as storax (alteration of the genus name) which was originally obtained from the within plant in ancient times for a number of purposes including perfumes, incense and medicines. Shrub resin is a gummy solid substance which is rich in benzoic acid, however this resin is no longer available in commerce. By comparison, liquid storax from Liquidambar orientalis (sweet-gum tree) is available in commerce.

Genus name comes from the classical Greek name derived from a Semitic name for these resin producing plants.

Specific epithet is in reference to this plant being the original and official source of the ancient herbal medicine known as storax.


No serious insect or disease problems.


Beautiful rounded flowering shrub or small tree. Specimen or mixed border. Woodland gardens.